Publication of General Pharmaceutical Services for Northern Ireland, Annual Statistics 2022/23

Date published: 29 June 2023

The Health and Social Care’s Business Services Organisation (BSO) has today published its General Pharmaceutical Services for Northern Ireland, Annual Statistics 2022/23.

This National Statistics report contains information on prescription dispensing and payments in relation to community dispensing (i.e. dispensing by community pharmacies, dispensing doctors and appliance suppliers).

Information is provided at Northern Ireland level with further breakdowns at Local Government District (LGD) and Local Commissioning Group (LCG) level.

The publication is available on the BSO’s website.

Key Points

  • at the end of 2022/23, Northern Ireland had 525 community pharmacies, one fewer than last year.
  • people in Northern Ireland live, on average, less than one mile from a community pharmacy.  However, there is a distinct variation in urban and rural settings, with Belfast Local Government District residents living, on average, 0.3 miles from their nearest pharmacy, compared with 1.6 miles for those living in Fermanagh and Omagh.
  • community pharmacies were responsible for dispensing over 99% of items in 2022/23, with the remainder dispensed by appliance contractors and dispensing doctors.
  • on average, each community pharmacy dispensed over 84,000 items in 2022/23, an increase of over 3% on the previous year.
  • the number of items dispensed in the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland was 46% higher than in the least deprived. Conversely, the average ingredient cost per item was over 20% higher in the least deprived areas.
  • Northern Ireland had the highest ingredient cost per person in the UK in the 2022 calendar year, at just over £245. This was almost 40% higher than England, where the ingredient cost per person was just over £176 in 2022.

Notes to editors: 

1. This is the fourth year that General Pharmaceutical Services Statistics for Northern Ireland has been released as a standalone report. This information was previously included as part of the FPS compendium published in 2017/18 and 2018/19. The report was produced by the Health and Social Care’s Business Services Organisation (BSO) which was specified as an Official Statistics producer body under the Official Statistics Order (Northern Ireland) 2012. It provides the definitive source of figures on BSO FPS General Pharmaceutical Service activity and finalises the provisional quarterly figures which have been released over the course of 2022/23.

2. The UK Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics on 11 May 2022. National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value. All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate. These statistics were considered as part of a wider assessment of the BSO Family Practitioner Services statistics.

3. Family Practitioner Services (FPS) is responsible for annual payments to primary care contractors including GP Practices, Dentists, Opticians and Community Pharmacists on behalf of the former Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), now Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) within the Department of Health. In 2022/23 this figure was just over £956 million, and included some additional support to contractors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. The data relate to BSO’s General Pharmaceutical Service payment and volumes reimbursed and have been sourced from administrative systems. It is important to note that, unless otherwise stated, figures relate to the year in which a payment was processed by BSO and this may not necessarily coincide with when prescription items were dispensed (i.e. some prescriptions from a previous year may be processed in the current year whilst, conversely, some prescriptions relating to the current year may not be processed until a later year).

5. Whilst a number of UK comparisons have been included in the report, there can be important differences in how services are delivered between countries that can impact on the figures. Further detail is provided in the report and the Background Quality Report available on the HSC Business website.

6. The report itself presents high level summary information, with all of the detailed data tables provided in the accompanying Excel appendices. The figures are prepared and released by independent NISRA statisticians working within BSO’s FPS Information Unit.

7. Quarterly updates for 2023/24, for key report tables, will be released on a provisional basis on the FPS section of the BSO website.

8. These will be added to the historic quarterly series. The timetable for the release of the quarterly updates will also be published on the BSO website and all publications, both quarterly and annual, will be formally announced on the GOV.UK release calendar.

9. Electronic copies of the bulletin and associated Excel tables are available free of charge from the HSC Business website.

10. National Statistics - This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice on the Statistics Authority website.

11. For further information please contact:

Information Unit
Family Practitioner Services
Business Services Organisation
2 Franklin Street
Belfast BT2 8DQ

12. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email

13. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.

14. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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